Barcroft
Henry
Boake

Home

Index of Poems

Glossary

How Babs Malone cut Down the Field

                  Now the squatters and the “cockies,”
                  Shearers, trainers and their jockeys
Had gathered them together for a meeting on
                                    the flat;
                  They had mustered all their forces,
                  Owners brought their fastest horses,
Monaro-bred - I couldn't give them greater praise
                                    than that.

                  "Twas a lovely day in Summer -
                  What the blacksmith called “a hummer,”
The swelling ears of wheat and oats had lost
                                    their tender green,
                  And breezes made them shiver,
                  Trending westward to the river -
The river of the golden sands, the moaning
                                    Eucumbene.

                  If you cared to take the trouble
                  You could watch the misty double,
The shadow of the flying clouds that skimmed the
                                    Boogong's brow,
                  Throwing light and shade incessant
                  On the Bull Peak's ragged crescent,
Upon whose gloomy forehead lay a patch of
                                    winter's snow.

                  Idly watching for the starting
                  Of the race that he had part in,
Old Gaylad stood and champed his bit, his
                                    weight about nine stone;
                  His owner stood beside him,
                  Who was also going to ride him,
A shearer from Gegederick, whose name was
                                    Ned Malone.

                  But Gaylad felt disgusted,
                  For his joints were fairly rusted,
He longed to feel the pressure of the jockey on his
                                    back,
                  And he felt that for a pin he'd
                  Join his mates, who loudly whinnied
For him to go and meet them at the post upon
                                    the track.

                  From among the waiting cattle
                  Came the sound of childish prattle,
And the wife brought up their babe to kiss his
                                    father for good luck;
                  Said Malone: "When I am seated
                  On old Gaylad, and am treated
With fairish play, I'll bet we never finish in the
                                    ruck."

                  But the babe was not contented,
                  Though his pinafore was scented
With oranges, and sticky from his lollies, for he
                                    cried,
                  This gallant little laddie,
                  As he toddled to his daddy,
And raised his arms imploringly - "Please, dad,
                                    div Babs a wide."

                  The father, how he chuckled
                  For the pride of it, and buckled
The surcingle, and placed the babe astride the
                                    racing pad;
                  He did it, though he oughtn't,
                  And by pure good luck he shortened
The stirrups, and adjusted them to suit the
                                    tiny lad,

                  Who was seemingly delighted,
                  Not a little bit affrighted,
He sat and twined a chubby hand among the
                                    horse's mane:
                  His whip was in the other;
                  But all suddenly the mother
Shrieked, "Take him off!" and then “the field” came
                                    thund'ring down the plain.

                  'Twas the Handicap was coming,
                  And the music of their drumming
Beat dull upon the turf that in its summer coat was
                                    dressed,
                  The racehorse reared and started,
                  Then the flimsy bridle parted,
And Gaylad, bearing featherweight, was striding
                                    with the rest.

                  That scene cannot be painted
                  How the poor young mother fainted,
How the father drove his spurs into the nearest
                                    saddle-horse,
                  What to do?  he had no notion,
                  For you'd easier turn the ocean
Than stop the Handicap that then was half-way
                                    round the course.

                  On the “bookies” at their yelling,
                  On the cheap-jacks at their selling,
On the crowd there fell a silence as the squadron
                                    passed the stand;
                  Gayest colours flashing brightly,
                  And the baby clinging tightly,
A wisp of Gaylad's mane still twisted in his
                                    little hand.

                  Not a thought had he of falling,
                  Though his little legs were galling,
And the wind blew out his curls behind him in a
                                    golden stream;
                  Though the motion made him dizzy,
                  Yet his baby brain was busy,
For hadn't he at length attained the substance
                                    of his dream!

                  He was now a jockey really,
                  And he saw his duty clearly
To do his best to win and justify his father's
                                    pride;
                  So he clicked his tongue to Gaylad,
                  Whispering softly, "Get away lad;"
The old horse cocked an ear, and put six inches
                                    on his stride.

                  Then, the jockeys who were tailing
                  Saw the big bay horse come sailing
Through the midst of them with nothing but a baby
                                    on his back,
                  And this startling apparition
                  Coolly took up its position
With a view of making running on the inside
                                    of the track.

                  Oh, Gaylad was a beauty,
                  For he knew and did his duty;
Though his reins were flying loosely, strange to
                                    say he never fell,
                  But held himself together,
                  For his weight was but a feather;
Bob Murphy, when he saw him, murmured
                                    something like "Oh, hell!"

But Gaylad passed the filly;
                  Passed Jack Costigan on “Chilli,”
Cut down the coward “Watakip” and challenged
                                    “Guelder Rose;”
                  Here it was he showed his cunning,
                  Let the mare make all the running,
They turned into the straight stride for
                                    stride and nose for nose.

                  But Babs was just beginning
                  To have fears about his winning,
In fact, to tell the truth, my hero felt inclined
                  to cry,
                  For the “Rose” was still in blossom,
                  And two lengths behind her “Possum,”
And gallant little “Sterling,” slow but sure,
                                    were drawing nigh.

                  Yes!  Babsie's heart was failing,
                  For he felt old Gaylad ailing,
Another fifty yards to go,  he felt his chance
                                    was gone.
                  Could he do it? much he doubted,
                  Then the crowd, oh, how they shouted,
For Babs had never dropped his whip, and now he
                                    laid it on!

                  Down the straight the leaders thundered
                  While people cheered and wondered,
For ne'er before had any seen the equal of that
                                    sight
                  And never will they, maybe,
                  See a flaxen-haired baby
Flog racehorse to the winning post with all his
                                    tiny might.

                  But Gaylad's strength is waning,
                  Gone in fact, beyond regaining,
Poor Babs is flogging helplessly, as pale as any
                                    ghost,
                  But he looks so brave and pretty
                  That the “Rose's” jockey takes pity,
And, pulling back a trifle, lets the baby pass the post.

                  *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

                  What cheering and tin-kettling
                  Had they after at the “settling,”
And how they fought to see who'd hold the baby on
                                    his lap;
                  As President Montgom’ry,
                  With a brimming glass of “Pomm’ry,”
Proposed the health of Babs Malone, who'd
                  won the Handicap.